Gather/Process/Make: The Art and Work of Shanda Stinebaugh
By Jaime Durham
Standing in Shanda Stinebaugh’s studio, it is hard to tell where the research ends and the work begins. The walls are a carefully curated arrangement of materials - petrified onion peels, colorful washes on paper, fragments of tree bark, insect wings, a denim swatch. Tables are stacked high with detritus, scribbled notes, and books ranging from poetry to scientific illustration. Shelves are lined with meticulously-labeled jars of handmade inks. Every surface is covered, but Shanda’s studio is not messy. It is an immaculately and purposefully organized ecosystem where she creates her work.
Shanda is a hunter and gatherer of objects, materials, and information. Her artistic practice begins with a simple task: travel and observe. Whether it is a walk through an antique store or the woods, Shanda approaches the world around her with openness and curiosity. Shanda does not begin with a plan or go about seeking anything in particular, but rather adapts to her environment and lets chance guide her. She collects materials and items that spark a sense of wonder; she collects materials with potential. Shanda returns to her studio with her day’s findings and begins, with a scientist-like urgency, to dissect and search for properties, reason, and meaning. Some materials will be ground, boiled, and distilled into inks to be painted with later, some materials will become the inspiration for a drawing or a print, and some materials will be preserved in the same state as they were found. Regardless of where the materials end up, they become key variables in the overarching experiment and play that is Shanda’s art practice.
Each piece that Shanda creates is a careful balance of chance and control. Through the organization and transformation of found materials, Shanda searches for order, reason, and connection. Her material meditations allow her to organize chaos and embrace imperfection. Shanda shares these works in a meticulously curated display to create an aesthetic experience for her viewers. Just as a collector would proudly display their prized collections, Shanda invites viewers to become curious, observe, and experience. Viewing Shanda’s work becomes a symbiotic exchange between artist and viewer that allows Shanda to build meaningful connections with the world around her.